These Families Are Shutting Down the Bank of Mum and Dad
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These Families Are Shutting Down the Bank of Mum and Dad

Parents are cutting the financial cord with their adult kids later than ever. They hope it isn’t awkward.

By VERONICA DAGHER
Mon, Feb 12, 2024 8:27amGrey Clock 3 min

The parents have been paying the monthly phone bill and covering rent for far longer than in prior generations . Some are helping their children with down payments to buy homes. Others are putting a roof over their kids’ heads well into their 20s and 30s to help them save because they can’t cover rising costs of living.

That comes with a price tag. More than a quarter of parents who are helping their children financially said it caused them to postpone retirement, according to a recent Credit Karma survey . More than half had to cut back on living expenses and about a third took on debt.

Feeling stretched, they are negotiating the terms of separation.

Nancy Clark and her then-28-year-old son, Reid Clark, had just sat down to dinner in June 2022 when the conversation turned to when he would move out. The topic had come up before, but this time they decided to set a date one year later.

Nancy, now 60, said she remembers thinking: “I know that becoming financially independent needs to feel a little painful.”

Reid set off on his own last June. He ditched a job managing his family’s three ice cream shops in New Hampshire for a gig as the assistant to a professional ice hockey team’s mascot in St. Paul, Minn. He also works at an M&M’s store.

Nancy bought him groceries when he moved in and occasionally gives $50. By this June, Reid will no longer get any financial help if he’s short. He hasn’t needed to hit up his mum for rent money in the past few months. “I want to chart my own path in life,” he said.

Taking such a gradual approach and framing the conversation around gaining financial independence give it a positive spin, said Rocky Fittizzi , a wealth strategies adviser at Bank of America Private Bank. Telling your children you’re cutting them off suggests it is a punishment.

An emotional decision

Many adult children are living at home, or moving back in, to save money. The cost of food and rent have jumped, and more college graduates are saddled with student debt. The share of 25-to-29 year-olds with student loans rose to 43% in 2022 from 28% in 1992. The rise was even bigger for those between 30 and 34, according to a recent report by the Pew Research Center.

Some 20% of men and 12% of women between 25 and 34 years old lived at home last year, far higher than two decades ago, according to Census Bureau data.

During the pandemic, layoffs and money strains forced some adult children and their parents to live together and share finances, said Arne Boudewyn at Insights Squared Consulting Group, a family wealth consulting company.

Worries over losing the close bonds forged during those years may add to the stress of ending monetary help, financial advisers said.

“Letting go is often harder for parents these days because we need to feel needed as much as we want to feel wanted,” said Bobbi Rebell , the founder of Financial Wellness Strategies, which gives workshops for parents about how to teach their children to be financially responsible.

Tough love, but not too tough

Pam Lucina still remembers the day about 30 years ago when her father told her she was off the payroll. She was in her first year of law school. Her parents had paid for her undergraduate education. Because she assumed they would pay for law school too, she had chosen a pricey school.

She graduated with $40,000 in student debt and couldn’t afford to contribute to her 401(k) for about five years.

“I know that my parents sacrificed to give me what they did and I’m grateful for all of their past support but I wish I had been more prepared,” said Lucina, 52, now an executive vice president at Northern Trust .

Lucina said the experience was a main reason she became a financial adviser. She has three daughters, and recently asked the oldest to complete her own college financial-aid form.

She tells clients that even if they have good intentions when cutting off their kids, it can feel to the children as if their parents are withholding money to punish them.

“Assure them that love is not contingent on finances,” she said.

Create an exit strategy

There are times when financial help is necessary. With a health issue or addiction, parents often use a special needs trust, where funds typically go directly to the child’s treatment and recovery. Others may opt to help children temporarily after a layoff.

But financial advisers said parents need to set boundaries.

Ashley Kaufman ’s parents told her she would need to move out of their Manhattan apartment, where she was living rent-free, once she saved $100,000 for a down payment on her own place.

The cybersecurity consultant hit her goal by the time she was 25, but she wasn’t sure she was ready to move out right then. She enjoyed seeing her younger siblings regularly and playing with her family’s dog named Waffles, she said. Her parents encouraged her to go to some open houses anyway.

Kaufman, who is the stepdaughter of Rebell from Financial Wellness Strategies, is now 27. She bought her apartment around two years ago.   She’s happy to be building equity in her place.

“I’m glad my parents gave me a little nudge,” she said.

—Julia Carpenter contributed to this article .



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New York Watch Auctions Record Uptick in Sales in the Face of Market Slowdown
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Luxury watch collectors showed ongoing strong demand for Patek Philippe, growing interest in modern watches and a preference for larger case sizes and leather straps at the June watch sales in New York, according to an analysis of the major auctions.

Independent and neo-vintage categories, meanwhile, experienced declines in total sales and average prices, said the report from  EveryWatch, a global online platform for watch information. Overall, the New York auctions achieved total sales of US$52.27 million, a 9.87% increase from the previous year, on the sale of 470 lots, reflecting a 37% increase in volume. Unsold rates ticked down a few points to 5.31%, according to the platform’s analysis.

EveryWatch gathered data from official auction results for sales held in New York from June 5 to 10 at Christie’s, Phillips, and Sotheby’s. Limited to watch sales exclusively, each auction’s data was reviewed and compiled for several categories, including total lots, sales and sold rates, highest prices achieved, performance against estimates, sales trends in case materials and sizes as well as dial colors, and more. The resulting analysis provides a detailed overview of market trends and performance.

The Charles Frodsham Pocket watch sold at Phillips for $433,400.

“We still see a strong thirst for rare, interesting, and exceptional watches, modern and vintage alike, despite a little slow down in the market overall,” says Paul Altieri, founder and CEO of the California-based pre-owned online watch dealer BobsWatches.com, in an email. “The results show that there is still a lot of money floating around out there in the economy looking for quality assets.”

Patek Philippe came out on top with more than US$17.68 million on the sale of 122 lots. It also claimed the top lot: Sylvester Stallone’s Patek Philippe GrandMaster Chime 6300G-010, still in the sealed factory packaging, which sold at Sotheby’s for US$5.4 million, much to the dismay of the brand’s president, Thierry Stern . The London-based industry news website WatchPro estimates the flip made the actor as much as US$2 million in just a few years.

At Christie’s, the top lot was a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM56-02 AO Tourbillon Sapphire
Richard Mille

“As we have seen before and again in the recent Sotheby’s sale, provenance can really drive prices higher than market value with regards to the Sylvester Stallone Panerai watches and his standard Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1a offered,” Altieri says.

Patek Philippe claimed half of the top 10 lots, while Rolex and Richard Mille claimed two each, and Philippe Dufour claimed the No. 3 slot with a 1999 Duality, which sold at Phillips for about US$2.1 million.

“In-line with EveryWatch’s observation of the market’s strong preference for strap watches, the top lot of our auction was a Philippe Dufour Duality,” says Paul Boutros, Phillips’ deputy chairman and head of watches, Americas, in an email. “The only known example with two dials and hand sets, and presented on a leather strap, it achieved a result of over US$2 million—well above its high estimate of US$1.6 million.”

In all, four watches surpassed the US$1 million mark, down from seven in 2023. At Christie’s, the top lot was a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM56-02 AO Tourbillon Sapphire, the most expensive watch sold at Christie’s in New York. That sale also saw a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM52-01 CA-FQ Tourbillon Skull Model go for US$1.26 million to an online buyer.

Rolex expert Altieri was surprised one of the brand’s timepieces did not crack the US$1 million threshold but notes that a rare Rolex Daytona 6239 in yellow gold with a “Paul Newman John Player Special” dial came close at US$952,500 in the Phillips sale.

The Crown did rank second in terms of brand clout, achieving sales of US$8.95 million with 110 lots. However, both Patek Philippe and Rolex experienced a sales decline by 8.55% and 2.46%, respectively. The independent brand Richard Mille, with US$6.71 million in sales, marked a 912% increase from the previous year with 15 lots, up from 5 lots in 2023.

The results underscored recent reports of prices falling on the secondary market for specific coveted models from Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet. The summary points out that five top models produced high sales but with a fall in average prices.

The Rolex Daytona topped the list with 42 appearances, averaging US$132,053, a 41% average price decrease. Patek Philippe’s Nautilus, with two of the top five watches, made 26 appearances with an average price of US$111,198, a 26% average price decrease. Patek Philippe’s Perpetual Calendar followed with 23 appearances and a US$231,877 average price, signifying a fall of 43%, and Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak had 22 appearances and an average price of US$105,673, a 10% decrease. The Rolex Day Date is the only watch in the top five that tracks an increase in average price, which at US$72,459 clocked a 92% increase over last year.

In terms of categories, modern watches (2005 and newer) led the market with US$30 million in total sales from 226 lots, representing a 53.54% increase in sales and a 3.78% increase in average sales price over 2023. Vintage watches (pre-1985) logged a modest 6.22% increase in total sales and an 89.89% increase in total lots to 169.

However, the average price was down across vintage, independent, and neo-vintage (1990-2005) watches. Independent brands saw sales fall 24.10% to US$8.47 million and average prices falling 42.17%, while neo-vintage watches experienced the largest decline in sales and lots, with total sales falling 44.7% to US$8.25 million, and average sales price falling 35.73% to US$111,000.

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